Wednesday, 30 June 2004

John Henson interviewed

John Henson, editor of the book Good as New that indirectly caused the blogriot was interviewed today by Martin Reynolds. Part of that interview is reproduced below. The full interview will appear in the next issue of Lesbian and Gay Christian, and the material is © LGCM.

When shown the blog comments about the book, John Henson said:

For someone who is uncomfortable with the telephone, perhaps old-fashioned in preferring to look people in the face when I talk to them, the web and blogriots is a little beyond me. It seems all too easy to snipe at people and deprecate them, very little Good News - from our rendering of Philippians 2:

Don’t throw your weight about, or scheme to get your own way. Regard everyone else as someone to cherish. Spend your time seeking to other’s needs rather than your own.

MR - Tell me, John, about the history of this translation?

JH - The text has been published over the last 12 years in serial form. These little booklets have had a very wide circulation, used as a tool for evangelisation for people who would not read the Bible or grasp the language if they did.

One of the reasons we did that was to have feed-back on the work. We have had a lot, from a wide range of people, bishops and inmates of Dartmoor Prison, all have helped contribute to this rolling translation.

In some way, it was not my choice to do this, it had a momentum of its own - but others kept the pressure up on me when I was slacking otherwise it might never have been finished.

I said “finished” and that’s not quite true - the publishers make it clear that this continues to be a rolling translation, we are looking for people to contact us with improvements and comments, there will be a second and third editions and hopefully each will be enriched by those who have read it.

This version is:

An inclusive translation
A cultural translation
A contextual translation

any of these is likely to cause something of a controversy for those who love the KJ version, all three……….

MR - What do you think you have achieved with this translation?

JH - I think people will have a sporting chance to understand Romans and maybe even Hebrews! We also think that John Ch 1 is more accessible. We are pleased with 1 Corinthians 13, Philippians 2, the Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes.

Someone commented Mark “reads like a novel” - I think Mark would be pleased about that.

Baptists will be over the moon at translating baptism as dip! (smile)

I think people have been told there is more about sex in the translation! I’m afraid they will be disappointed, but they may be gripped by the text all the same.

MR - Tell me about yourself?

I am a Baptist, a retired Minister (65) an Evangelical, teetotal, the son of a Baptist Minister. My only purpose, the thing that drives me is proclaiming the Good News. For the moment there seems to be a lot of emphasis on misery and hidden guilt in Evangelical circles, but that will pass, I see signs it has already had its day. I suppose I can be as bigoted as the next man, but I have chinks in my armour windows of opportunity for change. What frightens me is the people who cannot possibly be wrong, strangely, even after they have changed their mind!

MR - You say this is an inclusive translation - how do you understand that?

JH - Passages that have been used with a homophobic slant have been widened to include all forms of abuse - here the homophobic glasses have been taken off.Some people want a Bible to hit homosexuals on the head, while at the same time taking a relaxed view of say,…..the allied abuses in Iraq, they will find no comfort here.

MR - Rowan Williams has come in for some criticism for his foreword.

JH - Well I did see the Times article, atrocious piece, using the book to attack Dr Williams - I am responsible, if anyone should be criticised it should be me. It is a fair translation of the Greek, the idea put about that it advocates more sex is not true. All the early work on Romans was done by a Calvinistic Fundamentalist scholar.

As to the foreword, that was originally written for my book “The Other Temptation of Jesus” - that book used this translation for its Biblical passages. The publisher asked if he could use the same foreword and that was approved.

As the texts have been circulating for 12 years I’m not sure how much Dr Williams has read or used them. They have constantly been refined so I am not sure even if he saw the final work.

This is a piece of work aimed at primary evangelism, it is hardly surprising a bishop should approve it.

As to the omission of seven books and the inclusion of the Gospel of Thomas, that was my editorial choice. There were good reasons for that, even Luther wrote a “health warning” for Revelation, but this is not a completed work, its in progress, maybe it will come later. Those for whom the Canon of Scripture is a sacred cow will perhaps have had problems with the serialisation of the separate books, it is not an issue for me. This is a work for a 1st time reader, it has already moved people and changed their lives, it is achieving its goal. We can all be happy with that.

MR - A lot of people will buy this book just to pull it apart.

JH - I am looking forward to all constructive criticism, I hope they share it with me.

MR - Some people seem to want to burn it.

JH - People who burn books, burn people.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 30 June 2004 at 8:41 PM GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England

JH said:
Some people want a Bible to hit homosexuals on the head, while at the same time taking a relaxed view of say,…..the allied abuses in Iraq, they will find no comfort here.

Boy, ain’t that the truth! This is one of my pet peeves about the NIV translation used in several of the very conservative Episcopal churches in my Diocese. It’s so blatantly obvious that the translators of the NIV had a fundamentalist cultural & political agenda to push…

From an avowed NRSV reader :)

Posted by: David Huff at July 1, 2004 01:33 PM

Doesn’t the NRSV use gender-neutral language? Like it doesn’t have a cultural agenda to push. Ditto for Henson’s travesty.

Posted by: WannabeAnglican at July 6, 2004 10:55 PM